An accurate, precise and sensitive method was developed and validated for the simultaneous quantification of the flavonoid glycoside robinin, and its algycone kaempferol in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. The application of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) with a TurboIonspray interface in negative mode under multiple reactions monitoring was investigated. Chromatographic separation was achieved on a C(18) column using a mobile phase consisting of (A) water with 0.025% formic acid and 1mM ammonium formate and (B) acetonitrile with 0.025% formic acid. Rutin was used as the internal standard for robinin and fisetin as the internal standard for kaempferol. The assay had a limit of detection of 0.1ng/ml for both compounds when present in cell lysate. The calibration curves were linear from 1 to 250ng/ml (r>0.999) for each compound. The intra- and inter-day coefficients of variation were less than 10% and intra- and inter-day accuracies were within 11%. This assay was successfully applied in a robinin cellular uptake study to determine the intracellular concentrations of robinin in MCF-7 cells.
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